Ben Cole on the Economy and the Election

My friend Ben Cole showed up at Associated Baptist Press with an opinion piece. Most know Ben has an opinion about most everything. He is a skilled writer, voracious reader and student of leadership. In this piece Ben takes a look at the economy from some interesting angles – some many may have not considered. The point I like is that we have become accustomed, and demanded, certain things from our government but do not want to pay for the government to provide them. We decry taxes but want the benefit they would bring in desired programs. Whether you agree or disagree, you will find Ben writing well, again. What do you think?

I Did Not Go to the Prom – Or, In Defense of J.D. Greear

(Sometimes writing is “risk-taking.” Pastors writing on sensitive subjects on the interwebs may have dire consequences when words fail to stir healthy conversation. I write this post on my website. I am expressing my convictions not those of my church. The church I pastor is comprised of people who tend to see these issues as I do. There are also people who see them differently. We all aim for the kind of fellowship where we learn from one another and know how to make central issues central. On those matters where we all admit to a bit of a “cloud of unknowing” we practice love and charity. I offer this caveat having witnessed another pastor suffer the whipsaw of extreme stridency. Fortunately his integrity and character won the day and the grace and mercy of God gained a beautiful, if painful, illustration.)

Southern Baptists practice apophatic morality. Our history seems to be replete with illustrations of what we don’t do. That is, the best vision we seem able to offer when it comes to morality is best described in the via negativa. While it may be an unfair over-simplification to those who practice apophatic theology, it is not too far removed from reality when it comes to we Southern Baptists and our assertions for personal morality. Growing up we learned the mantra well. The moral fabric we learned was to not – smoke, drink, cuss, play cards, go to R-rated movies, or dance. Read More

Tornadoes and God or God and Tornados

Living in Tornado Alley we watch weather about as much as we watch Sooner Football. In fact if a storm blows up hours from where we live, Gary will preempt programming so the rest of the state may watch the potential calamity. We are glad for the warnings. It’s just that sometimes, the lack of night vision and distance keep us from really wanting to spend the evening listening to Val cast about in the dark chasing a storm that will never reach us.
Well, a storm reached the Twin Cities complete with tornadoes. The fact that it damaged a church caught the attention of some in the area. John Piper offered his take. Greg Boyd has responded. Marty Duren even examined the story. Talk about a perfect storm. Those aware of the differing theological frameworks these two view the world from could well create another storm.
Tornado1In 1999 what was considered the largest tornado in history at the time hit just south of our church. We are quite the churched area. That is, there are plenty of churches for a tornado to hit. Ridgecrest Baptist Church was razed. The BridgeCreek Church of Christ was not. Neither was Snow Hill, Woodland Hills, First Baptist Church, Newcastle. Not to mention the other dozen in the city limits of Tuttle. Not one time would we or could we ascribe such devastation to a particular act of judgment on that church.

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Surely We Can Do Better – We Must

Quick posts are sometimes the bane of blogdom. So, I sat on this yesterday morning. I did not write before the story ran on a local television station. I wanted to hear all of the comments available.

Yesterday I received a call from a local religion news writer about an incident with our state Baptist newsletter. I was pointed to this online piece drawing attention to the matter. If you are bothered by sarcasm and pointed criticism, don’t bother to click the link. Just read on.

First,  the Baptist Messenger is generally considered a religious “newspaper.” But, I contend we have a print media outlet to let us know what is going on with the BGCO and its member churches. In that sense it is a newsletter. Sure there are editorials and reprints from other “news” outlets, but it is really a newsletter. I am good with that. Even the last Editor noted he was fine with being considered a newsletter.

Second, newsletters, like our own church’s, can be perilous. Typographical errors and poor proof reading can really send some into a tailspin, especially if the mistake derails the intent of the piece. I recall sending out a weekly email a few years ago. I begin by typing, “Hello” and the word processor grabbed the first name from the created database. Simple enough. Except on this occasion I left the “o” off of my introduction. You can imagine how quickly that was pointed out to me. I raced to make the correction and offer apologies. Some laughed. Others may not have so much.

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Cultural Captivity – (Not) Seeing Our Own

Thinking through the implications of Peter Rollins‘ little book, The Orthodox Heretic, left me considering the ways we often miss our own “logs” when looking for others’ “specks.” There needs to be a greater intersection between our lives and the life of Jesus evidenced in our living more than our speaking.merge-left

Everyone is moving left. At least what we tend to hear suggests this to be true. The euphemism means we are sliding perilously toward a day when “everyone does what is right in his own eyes.” Major moral issues tend to define this particular warning. Chiefly issues surrounding homosexuality and abortion as understood by the Church/church frame the debates. Each time someone writes a piece questioning the “once for all” moral positions of the Scriptures fear creates the need for certain assurances lest we capitulate to culture and live as if nothing is “wrong” any longer.

If any denomination understands cultural captivity in the South it should be the Southern Baptist Convention. Until 1997 the dirty little secret was the issue of slavery. Years after African-Americans won the right to vote the SBC resolved to apologize for using the Sacred Text to support such an inhumane institution. Read More